A Real Town Hall Meeting
As we enter the season of the summer town hall congressional meetings, I thought it would be nice to see how one is supposed to be conducted. We all heard the horrors of last years Democrat debacles. The Democrats pulled stunts like refusing entry to non-constituents, holding meetings in small rooms to limit the crowd, heavy police presence to intimidate would-be speakers and even ignoring comments by taking cell phone calls during question and answer time.
Not so at Republican meetings. Last year, Congressman Kevin Brady held his meetings where anyone could attend. And, when the rooms filled beyond capacity, he just held another meeting right after the first to make sure everyone had an opportunity to speak and hear.
Wednesday night, Houston Congressman John Culberson again set the standard for an open and transparent town hall meeting. The meeting, held in the newly remodeled auditorium of the Westchester Academy for International Studies in west Houston, was the 2nd of two meetings held this week by Mr. Culberson. As I drove into the parking lot, I noticed a lot of vehicles with Obama/Bill White bumper stickers. That is great as these meetings are meant for all to attend. At the sign-in table, there was no screening of attendees. All were welcome. Only an optional sign-in sheet was presented for those who wished to be listed as attendees.
Mr. Culberson started the meeting right on time with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. He made a few introductory statements and then opened the floor to questions.
Questions were asked on a wide range of topics. The first question came from a Democrat expressing his displeasure with the 0% Death Tax that is currently being phased out at the end of this year. He felt that families should be forced to pay tax on money that had already been taxed simply because a loved one had died. Not a popular suggestion at this meeting. Culberson responded by clearly stating his position against the Death Tax and supporting renewal of the Bush Tax Cuts.
Questions went on through the hour and a half meeting on topics such as illegal immigration, border security, anchor babies, Voter ID, healthcare reform, the drilling ban and cap and trade legislation.
Midway through the night, a young man named Trevor (aged 12) came to the front with his father escorting to ask a question about why the government isn't doing its job of protecting us by securing the border between Mexico and Texas. Mr. Culberson, quite taken with the young man, spent several minutes speaking one on one with Trevor explaining what he had done in the Del Rio/Laredo sector with a program called Operation Streamline which has significantly reduced illegal crossings and crime in the area. (More on this in a later story.)
Later, a Vietnam Veteran said "More soldiers have been killed by politicians than the enemy". A reference to the wars that have been run by politicians rather than generals with limited, politically correct rules of engagement and understaffed regiments. He went on to request that American soldiers be allowed to fulfill their obligation of the military oath to defend the borders of the United States. A sentiment greeted with a warm round of applause. Questions were taken for as long as time allowed and Mr. Culberson had cards passed out for additional questions which he promised would be answered by mail or email. There was no screening of questions. They were taken from anyone who chose to speak and Mr. Culberson dealt with each politely and compassionately. Over 1,200 people attend the two meetings held on consecutive nights.
This is what a representative republic is supposed to look like. A representative of the people that politely answered the questions of those he served. Contrast that with the actions of Congressman Pete Stark or Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee's rudeness of taking a cell phone call during a question.
Are the Democrats going to host equally open meetings this summer? Let's find out.